Making Sense of Money - Part D ... Fundraising
Is it possible to love money without having it, and is it possible to have it without loving it?" J.C.Ryle
We all like to have the money in the bank before venturing into a campaign that costs money. This can be a real stressor to moving forwad in ministry. It is also probably the first reason why ministry is hindered.
Driven by the created imperatives to conduct ministry programs and erect brick tools for these desirable programs, money is invariably perceived as the short fall to progress.
In this final instalment, four more Biblical principles of managing money for life and ministry are developed.
The final four principles
3 - Debt hinders ministry
Debt is not an enhancer of ministry, but rather a handbrake to ministry (and indeed life). Debt is enslaving.
170 years ago a small English missionary really kicked over the contemporary traces in so many areas of Christian living. This he also did with fundraising for his China Inland Mission.
Hudson Taylor began a legacy that still lives to this day. It is now called the OMF - Overseas Missionary Fellowship. This enduring ministry was founded upon and serviced on debt free principles.
Was Hudson Taylor the first to teach the faithful principle of avoiding debt?
To me it seemed that the teaching of God's word was unmistakeably clear - 'owe no man anything' (Rms 13:8). To borrow money implied to my mind a contradiction of Scripture - a confession that God had withheld some good thing and a determination to get for ourselves what He had not given. (p137 - Spiritual Secrets - Howard Taylor Pub - Whitaker House 1996 - United States of America)
Taylor helpfully developed the idea that not trusting God for financial provison is dishonoring to God. After all, a Christian is first asked to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10), knows all your needs before you ask Him. He is both very willing and fully capable of funding His call as you prayerfully call to Him - remember - God pays for what He orders.
"They who trust Him wholly, find Him to be wholly true." - Hudson Taylor
Principle 3 - Do not go into debt for ministry
4- Living by faith
If a minister of the gospel, a servant of Christ, those with His calling upon their lives and in their heart, will live without debt, they are living by faith. Patience and contentment is the key, indeed they are the conduit to debt free living and ministry. The sealing for such a life is received in prayerful faith.
Faith living and patient living are synonymous. Patience and trust are bed partners in God's kingdom. Patience will always trust that God will always deliver on His promises and on what He has ordered.
As a ministry expands and opportunities thankfully multiply, the draw of the debt-dollar becomes so justifiably strong. Fear that the ministry will fall into a malaise from insufficeint funds can seductively beckon, so debt becomes the instant answer.
God knows far more accurately the potential and the seasons of His work. It is in His season that the finances will arise. God does not want His work to overcome His workers (Deut 7:27), so He may withhold finances until the foundations are sufficiently strong to carry the added burdens of service and management His financial provision will deliver.
Remember that Abraham's impatient haste for God's promise of a son, led to the unwelcome birth of Ishmael. Ishmael's birth tore at Abraham's family and has subsequently caused distress across this world to today. Abraham's premature actions delivered burdens and not blessings. (See Gen 21)
God will extend His ministry in His time.
Ministry and indeed life requires steps of faith (2Cor 5:7), so often the faith step is required to advance a ministry before the finances arrive. Faith precedes finances.
(Lack of faith can often guarantee lack of finances - Mk 11:20-25 ... also see below A Diversion)
Principle 4 - Eyes of faith will always see past a heart of fear.
5 - God is the mover of men's hearts
God moves the hearts of men to serve the heart of Heaven.
In Ezra 1:1 God moved the heart of the King of Persia, Cyrus, to equip the Israelites so that they may return to Jerusalem and re-build the temple.
Nehemiah was in great distress over the state of his brethren in Jerusalem. He prays and fasts and prays yet again (see Neh 1-2) for help from King Artaxerxes to assist with the call God had placed on His heart.
Nehemiah was as intent on re-building the walls of Jerusalem, as Ezra was intent on re-building the temple. God moved Artaxerxes' heart (another Persian king) and Nehemiah is given all he needs.
And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. (Neh 2:8c)
God has His own fundraising mechanisms as He moves through the hearts of others to give to His purposes.
Principle 5 - Where God guides, God provides.
6 - Pennies are raised by prayer.
The most important principle is left until last.
It is often easier to approach a banker, a friend or a businessman for finances than to approach God, yet the God who manages the storehouses of heaven is waiting to hear from His own in prayers that do not give up. (Lk 18:1-8)
Fundraising is done on the knees.
Persistent, fervent, soul-engaging prayer seeks heaven with a field of ministry and a heart given to devotion.
The God of heaven is lacking in no resources.
The God of heaven desires to give generously from His abundant grace without finding fault. (Lk 11:7-13, James 1:4)
The God of heaven does not desire to withhold from those fully given over to Him.
Principle 6 - Prayer precedes pennies.
A Diversion ... When God appears silent
As always Jesus has established the perfect model. Jesus would only ever do what He saw the Father doing (Jn 5:19, 8:26). God will always guide as to His activity. So there are three caveats to the above principles:
- Many a ministry has languished in financial distress as its ministers asked God to get behind their own ideas, rather than first asking if they could get behind God's ideas.
- A call of God is always for a season. God plans the times, it is appointed by Him (Dan 11:29). When the season is ended many involved in the ministry may not see this, or if they do, they endeavour to continue it on for a host of personal reasons that are not God-honoring.
- There may be sin in the camp that must be dealt with before God will favor that work again (see Joshua 7).
The above three caveats are not exhaustive but may well explain why a ministry continues to flounder financially.
- The impossible is available to those who rely on the eternal.